Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Keratan akhbar - Court puts gag on Chenderong land dispute

By G. Manimaran
Bahasa Malaysia Editor
August 11, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 11 — The Kuala Terengganu Syariah High Court has barred nine respondents and plaintiffs in the dispute over 25,000 hectares of endowment land from issuing public statements against the defendant.

Dated July 25, the order by Judge Shaikh Ahmad Ismail was issued following an ex-parte application by the Terengganu Islamic and Malay Customs Council.

It forbids the nine respondents from making verbal or written statement that may cause embarrassment to the Islamic council, who is the defendant in the matter.
The court made the decision according to Section 197(2) and Section 200 of the Syariah Courts Procedure Enactment (Terengganu) 2001, which allow ex-parte applications and court injunctions to be issued.

With the order, the court also decided that the trial be postponed to ensure that all respondents and their agents were in compliance.

The respondents are plaintiffs Tengku Zainul Akmal Tengku Besar Mahmud and Tengku Hidayah Tengku Habib, and their lawyer Kamar Ainiah Kamaruzaman, the Multimedia and Communication Commission, The Malaysian Insider, Berita Harian, Sinar Harian, Astro and TV Selangor.

The application was one of the four requests made when the case was first heard on July 25.

Further to the application, the case proceeding has now been postponed to January next year.

The Kuala Terengganu Syariah Court also made the postponement as the Islamic council and its lawyer had pleaded a lack of preparation for the proceedings, which were supposed to continue until last July 26.

The court will also hear an inter-parte application for the case to be heard behind closed-doors.

No date has been set to hear the application.

Meanwhile the deputy president of Syariah lawyers association Musa Awang told The Malaysian Insider that such an order was not unusual in the Syariah justice system.
“There have been other ex-parte applications. The court can issue an order if there is a valid ground,” said Musa.

However, he said the order cannot be imposed on any entity or companies owned by non-Muslims and added that the respondents can move to strike out the order.
“The respondents can either apply to set aside the order or to just continue reporting the case as heard in court without making any comment,” said Musa.
The piece of land in Chendrong, measuring 25,000 hectares or almost the size of Penang Island, was awarded by the late Terengganu ruler, Sultan Zainal Abidin III, to his daughter Tengku Nik Maimunah and her husband Tengku Ngah Omar Abdul Rahim in March 1906, and was later turned into wakaf or endowment land in 1961, which under Islamic law can only be used for religious or charitable purposes.

The dispute started after some descendents of Tengku Ngah Omar became unhappy with the management of the land by the Terengganu Islamic and Malay Custom Council, and the annual payout.

In their demand, Tengku Zainal Akmal and Tengku Hidayah are seeking a declaration that the Chenderong land cannot be transferred, leased or sub-leased for more than three years or mortgage.

They also wanted the court to stop the defendant from violating the decree by Terengganu Mufti that the land is not transferable and any third parties are also subjected to the fatwa.

The plaintiffs are also seeking a declaration that all leases are null and void, and demanded that the Islamic council form a special body comprising the family members to jointly administrate the property.

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